(Brooklyn, NY) – Today, Brooklyn Community Foundation announces a $100,000 commitment to local and statewide organizing efforts to prepare communities for the 2020 Census. Grants to the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College and the New York Immigration Coalition aim to ensure that historically undercounted populations in the borough are accurately counted and that the $600 billion in federal funding allocated using information from the 2020 Census count is distributed fairly.
According the City University of New York (CUNY) Mapping Service, more than 80% of Brooklyn’s population lives in areas identified as “hard to count.”
A $40,000 grant to the Center for Law and Social Justice will support the NYC Black Leadership Action Coalition for Census 2020 (NYC BLAC) in strategy development and outreach planning to historically “hard to count” black communities and communities of African descent to increase fair access to resources and political power.
The New York Immigration Coalition will also receive $40,000 to support the New York Counts 2020 statewide coalition to coordinate a broad-based “get out the count” campaign aimed at increasing response rates, while also advocating against changes to the Census that could suppress survey responses—including the inclusion of a Citizenship question for the first time in 70 years.
Brooklyn Community Foundation will allocate an additional $20,000 this year through a collaborative effort with other foundations funding Census 2020 organizing across New York State, to bring greater attention to challenges facing Brooklyn’s communities and ensure that national and statewide strategies enhance local efforts.
“As Brooklyn’s community foundation, the 2020 Census is an opportunity to mobilize our communities and increase representation and resources for all of our residents—particularly communities of color and immigrant communities who have historically not had their voices heard,” said Cecilia Clarke. “Kings County has been one of the hardest to count counties not only in New York State, but nationwide and we must act now to change that in the next two years. We fully believe Brooklyn can and should lead the way in this critical moment.”
The Census count has lasting impacts on a number of significant levels, from funding to democratic representation. Census data informs the broad understanding of community populations and how and where resources are directed. The Census also directly and indirectly affects more than $600 billion in federal grants to support schools and education programs, homeland security, highway planning and construction, Medicaid, public transit, low income housing, mental health services, natural disaster recovery, and more. The decennial count also determines the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives, and informs the redrawing of state and federal election districts. In 2010, New York State lost two Representatives in the redistribution of House seats.
Historically, the census has missed disproportionate numbers of people of color, immigrants, young children (especially Latino and Black children), and low income, low educational attainment, and rural households, subsequently leading to a decade of inequity in political power, government funding, and private sector investment for these communities.
The current political climate presents new challenges for the 2020 Census count, including the addition of a Citizenship question for the first time since 1950. Other barriers to an accurate count include under-funding and reduced staffing and preparation at the Census Bureau, as well as issues around capturing survey responses online for the first time. Advocates are concerned that a mistrust of government, especially in communities with mixed immigration status residents, will lead to even fewer Census responses.
"Without the early engagement of funders like Brooklyn Community Foundation, community-based organizations would not be ready to do the grassroots organizing needed to ensure that New York has a fair and accurate count, and the opportunity to leverage Census 2020 to increase resources and build political power for marginalized communities—both in Brooklyn and across the entire state," said Steve Choi, Executive Director, the New York Immigration Coalition. Last week, the New York Immigration Coalition joined a network of immigrant rights group in a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Arnold & Porter challenging the Trump administration’s plan to include a Citizenship question.
“There is a lot at stake with the 2020 Census and time is of the essence,” added Lurie Daniel Favors, General Counsel, Center for Law & Social Justice. “It is imperative that community-based organizations, houses of worship, civic groups, advocates, and concerned individuals get involved to mobilize for a full count of all New Yorkers, now. NYC BLAC for Census 2020 has been working to diligently increase the complete count rate for Census 2020 in New York communities of African descent and we are excited to partner with Brooklyn Community Foundation to make this goal a reality."
This $100,000 commitment represents the first of a new stream of support from Brooklyn Community Foundation for the 2020 Census. Additional commitments will be announced in 2019 and 2020.
About Brooklyn Community Foundation
Brooklyn Community Foundation is on a mission to spark lasting social change, mobilizing people, capital, and expertise for a fair and just Brooklyn. It is the first and only public foundation solely dedicated to Brooklyn’s charitable community, working in partnership with generous donors and community leaders to bolster vital nonprofits, strengthen neighborhoods, and increase opportunities for youth. Since its founding in 2009, the Foundation and its donors have provided over $40 million in grants to more than 300 nonprofits in Brooklyn and beyond. Learn more at www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.
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